Dr. Susan Shirk

Research Professor; Chair, 21st Century China Center
University of California, San Diego



Susan Shirk is research professor and the founding chair of the 21st Century China Center, a unique academic research center and university-based policy think tank at the School of Global Policy and Strategy, UC San Diego. She is one of the most influential experts working on U.S.-China relations and Chinese politics in the U.S. She first visited China in 1971 and has been researching and engaging with China ever since. She is the author of many books, including most notably The Political Logic of Economic Reform in China, China: Fragile Superpower, and Overreach: How China Derailed its Peaceful Rise published by Oxford University Press in October 2022. Overreach won the Lionel Gelber Prize for the best book in English on international affairs from the Munk School, University of Toronto, in 2023, and is shortlisted for the 2023 Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Book Award for books making an outstanding contribution to the understanding of foreign policy or international relations.

From 1997-2000, Dr. Shirk served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs, with responsibility for China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Mongolia. She is the founder of the Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue (NEACD), a Track 1.5 forum for discussions of security issues among defense and foreign ministry officials and academics from the United States, Japan, China, Russia, and North and South Korea. She was a member of the Defense Policy Board.

Shirk co-chairs a task force of China experts whose most recent report is “Avoiding War Over Taiwan.” She is also co-chair of the UC San Diego Forum on U.S.-China Relations, an ongoing high-level forum focused entirely on the U.S.-China relationship. She received the 2021 Joseph J. Kruzel Memorial Award of the American Political Science Association for her distinguished career in national security affairs as an academic and public servant.

Shirk is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College, received her M.A. in Asian Studies from UC Berkeley, and received her Ph.D in Political Science from M.I.T.